One a penny, two a penny... Hot Cross Buns are a classic, beloved bread that has found a special place on Easter tables across the South. As the story goes, these sweet buns can actually be traced back to a 12th century monk, who celebrated Good Friday by adding a "cross" to the top of small buns. Through the years, the recipe has risen greatly in popularity, with a common thred being that the yeasted buns are often made with raisins and spices, and then, once baked, decorated with a frosting cross. Hot Cross Buns show up every Easter weekend to rave reviews around our tables, and this recipe – made with layers of cinnamon sugar and raisins – does not disappoint. The light, golden-brown buns are a perfect addition to your Good Friday celebrations or Easter morning breakfast; they aren't overly sweet. Hot Cross Buns are also an easy recipe to double or triple and share with friends over the holiday weekend; they travel well and are a pretty, put-together bread to present to guests.
2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg white
1 teaspoon milk
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
How to Make It
Add milk, oil, and 1/2 cup sugar to a saucepan, cooking over medium heat until mixture is almost boiling. Remove saucepan from the heat, and cool about 30 minutes.
Move milk mixture to a large bowl, and add active dry yeast and 4 cups of flour. Combine completely, and set dough aside, covered, to rise for about an hour.
To the dough, add remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine thoroughly.
In a smaller bowl, combine remaining sugar with cinnamon.
Flour a cutting board or countertop, and turn out dough onto surface. Flatten dough, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar across dough until completely coated. Sprinkle raisins onto the dough, and then fold dough into thirds. Repeat cinnamon sugar, raisins, and folding three times.
Break off small golf ball-size pieces of dough, turning edges under to seal dough on the bottom. Repeat until dough is gone. Let balls of dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Brush risen dough with egg wash mixture, and bake rolls at 400˚F for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Let rolls cool completely.
For icing, combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Frosting should have stiff consistency. Pipe frosting in the shape of a cross onto cooled rolls.